What Does It Mean to Be an Intuitive Eater?

  April 30, 2018

First and foremost becoming an intuitive eater means going back to your natural tendencies, learning to listen to your body and eat based on your internal regulators again. Why do I say AGAIN? This is how we are born – we are born as intuitive eaters. If you have struggled through the years with chronic dieting, food rules and eating disorder behaviors, you have likely lost connection with your ability to listen to your body.

Does this ring true? You tell yourself you aren’t going to eat anymore of _______. However, the more you try not to eat the food, the more you crave the food. You eventually give in and eat LOTS of it, but that isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is how you feel after. You feel overly full, maybe sick, guilty and ashamed you can’t control yourself.

Are you a parent? Have you noticed that you are struggling to trust your children with their appetites? You are noticing you get really bent out of shape when your child(ren) request foods that at classically deemed as junk food. You feel like you have to restrict these certain foods to help your child to be more healthy. You are worried when your child doesn’t eat vegetables and fruits.

These might be signs that you have lost touch with your own intuition around your eating. It might even be impacting how you are feeding your children.

Let me first start by saying what intuitive eating is NOT!

It is not:

  1. A new way to diet
  2. A weight loss tool
  3. A way to trick your body and mind in order to change your body size

So, what would it mean for you to learn to be an intuitive eater again?

Based on the Founders of Intuitive Eating developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch it comes with 10 Principles:

  1. Rejecting the Diet Mentality
  2. Honoring Your Hunger
  3. Making Peace with Food
  4. Challenging the Food Police
  5. Respecting Your Fullness
  6. Discovering the Satisfaction Factor
  7. Honoring Your Feelings Without Using Food
  8. Respecting Your Body
  9. Exercising – Feeling the Difference
  10. Honoring Your Health

Let me give you a quick run down of a few of them:

Rejecting the Diet Mentality

What does it mean to really reject the diet mentality? It means giving up restrictions of any foods (except for medical reasons of course). This means no low carb, high protein, cleanses, “clean” eating. It means realizing that you haven’t failed at dieting – diets have failed you. Dieting causes more harm than they do good.

Honoring Your Hunger/Respecting Your Fullness/Discovering Satisfaction

Just like a newborn you can learn to trust your hunger and fullness. I promise you when you listen to your body it will tell you exactly what you need. If you have turned off or ignored these cues it might seem as if you can never get them back, but you can! It’s important that you are learning to be not only full from your food, but satisfied.

For example: If your body is craving chocolate, but you try to eat an apple. It might fill your belly, but will it satisfy you?

Making Peace with Food

Food is food – there really is no moral value to the food we eat. However, our culture puts moral value on food. One of the key points to making peace with food is feeling learning to eat all foods. This can be the hardest part, but the most rewarding when you feel good nourishing yourself.

One of my clients recently said to me, “It’s so weird, as soon as I gave myself permission to eat those foods I didn’t care as much about them anymore. I mean I still ate them, but I actually enjoyed them and then moved on.”

Challenge the Food Police

Who is the food police for you? Are you policing your own appetite or the food you eat? Are you policing your children or partner’s food? In either of these cases, food policing only contributes to guilt and shame around eating. You challenging the food police will help you be more relaxed around your eating.

Honoring Your Feelings Without Food

What is it like to be parent today? It’s hard work! Most parents give themselves little time to recharge their body and mind. This means self-care goes out the window. While self care can mean the traditional things like manicures and massages, self-care is about being able to recharge daily. What can you do, even if it is for 10 minutes to recharge?

Respecting Your Body

We are all born in different sizes and shapes – our genetics are responsible for this. When we try to change our body to fit into social norms or a size that we aren’t meant to be, it risks our relationship to our bodies. Having body respect means learning to accept your body at the size it is meant to be.

Exercising – Feel the Difference

I prefer the term movement over exercise. Exercise seems to have the connotation of being more of a punishment rather than for joy. Using exercise to change your body is punishing your body. Using exercise to allow yourself to eat isn’t listening to your body. So often, clients tell me.. I’m not motivated to exercise. I ask them to reflect on movement you truly enjoy. It usually gives answers to what movement that they can do. When we look forward to things, we need very little motivation.

Honoring Your Health

One of the biggest misconceptions is that if you start listening to your body and eating what you body is wanting and craving, it will affect your health. However, quite the contrary happens. The mind games we play around eating negatively effect our bodies much more than eating the food we are wanting and moving on. You might notice that when you start eating intuitively your body might want to make up for lost time and eat foods you haven’t given yourself permission to eat in a long time. However, you will also notice when your body craves foods that are classically deemed as more nutritious.

Learning to be an intuitive eater again is different. It will challenge your thoughts around food. You will challenge your thoughts about your body. However, in the end you will find food freedom.

If you would like to explore learning to be an intuitive eater, join my Breaking the Cycle: Healing Your Relationship with Food and Body. Together we will explore the principles of Intuitive Eating which in turn will help you to raise your children to be intuitive eaters also!



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